Pope Francis’s Marxist economic analysis reflects the Left’s long march through the Catholic Church

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’s recent “Apostolic Exhortation Evangeli Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis, to the Bishops, Clerk, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World” outraged conservatives, most notably Rush Limbaugh, because it attacks capitalism.  Even though I trust Rush, he admitted that he was just relying on Reuters when he expressed his dismay that Pope Francis would take on the free-market.   I therefore decided to read the Exhortation myself to see if Reuters (which approved of the exhortation) and Rush (who did not approve) were right.  I ended up skimming the 224-page document to get a sense of context and to assure myself that Rush was not misled by Reuters and that Reuters was not misled by its own ideology.   As it happens, both Reuters and Rush were right.

Before I begin, though, let me say that the Pope’s economic remarks are only a small fraction of a larger work that should not be ignored.  Indeed, when Pope Francis is not addressing specifically economic issues, the faithful should pay attention to his words if the Church is to survive in a world with increasing competition for people’s souls.

Pope Francis points out that these external pressures on the Catholic Church include competition from other religions, as well as pressure from what the Pope describes as a world “pervaded as it is by consumerism,” that breeds “the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.”  Because of this this highly competitive ideological market, the Pope says — rightly, I think — that the Church must update and adapt its tactics, both among the faithful and to outsiders, while still keeping to its core mission of spreading Christ’s words and ministering to his flock.

But what about his Marxist language? Yes, it’s there and it’s really Marxist. Here are just a few excerpts to give you the flavor:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality.

[snip]

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized:without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

At one level, these words repeat what the Church has said since its inception, which is that the faithful have an obligation to the poor. What’s new, and what cannot be denied, is that the words the Pope uses — e.g., “inequality,” “exploitation,” and “oppression” — have a definite pink, Marxist tinge. In the next paragraph, that tinge goes full red as the Pope makes an explicit attack against capitalism:

In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.

It’s rather peculiar that Pope Francisco says that capitalism “has never been confirmed by the facts.” The history of world economic successes and failures should prove all the facts that anyone could want.  The countries with the highest standards of living have always been capitalist. Moreover, as I noted in an earlier post, true capitalism has social and economic mobility. In a free market, while poverty inevitably exists (“For ye have the poor always with you,” Matthew 26:11), it’s a way station for people on their way to greater economic security, rather than an end point. In non-capitalist societies, however, the same families are mired in poverty for generations. This situation reaches its apex in communist societies, where entire populations are mired in poverty for generations.

The Pope doubles down on his Marxist economic analysis when he defends a managed economy as the best way to relieve income “inequality.” He seems unaware that economic inequality is not a byproduct of capitalism but is, instead, a byproduct of managed economies with their inevitable “crony capitalism” (which is a fancy word for corruption).

While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.

There’s no way to pretty this up. The Pope is not saying that the best economic system is a free market system tempered by a moral citizenry.  Moreover, if he’s saying that poor Third World countries suffer from free-market systems, and that these systems explain their appalling poverty, he’s just wrong. The fact is that poor, Third World countries don’t suffer from an excess of free-market systems. They suffer from corrupt governments, medieval theocracies, and socialist economic systems, all of which use the strong hand of government to interfere with the marketplace.

The laws of economics are both as abstract and as inexorable as the laws of physics. Governments that try to override them only end up perverting their inevitable, implacable outcomes. Icarus soared for a few minutes until his poorly designed wax wings ended in his fatal fall to earth. Government interference works for a few years as it pumps paper money into the economy, or redistributes from rich to poor, but then true wealth disappears and the managed, manipulated economy collapses, leaving a few winners (usually government cronies) and a lot of desperately poor losers. We give our losers welfare, but they’re still losers in a system in which true wealth diminishes as the government continuously impoverishes the wealth-creators in our society.

Okay. So the Pope went full Marxist. Why did he do that? I think the answer is a simple one: he’s from Latin America. The Latin American Catholic Church went Leftist in the 1950s and 1960s, when it developed “liberation theology.” This time line coincides perfectly with Pope Francis’s coming-of-age as a Catholic priest.

“Liberation theology” is a pure Leftist doctrine tacked onto Catholicism:

Liberation theology proposes to fight poverty by addressing its alleged source: sin. In so doing, it explores the relationship between Christian theology — especially Roman Catholic theology — and political activism, especially in relation to social justice, poverty, and human rights. The principal methodological innovation is seeing theology from the perspective of the poor and the oppressed. For example Jon Sobrino, S.J., argues that the poor are a privileged channel of God’s grace.

Some liberation theologians base their social action upon the Bible scriptures describing the mission of Jesus Christ, as bringing a sword (social unrest), e.g. Isaiah 61:1, Matthew 10:34, Luke 22:35–38 — and not as bringing peace (social order)[better source needed]. This Biblical interpretation is a call to action against poverty, and the sin engendering it, to effect Jesus Christ’s mission of justice in this world.

Gustavo Gutiérrez gave the movement its name with his book A Theology of Liberation (1971). In this book, Gutierrez combined populist ideas with the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He was influenced by an existing socialist current in the Church which included organizations such as the Catholic Worker Movement and the French Christian youth worker organization, “Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne”. He was also influenced by Paul Gauthier’s “The Poor, Jesus and the Church” (1965). Gutierrez’s book is based on an understanding of history in which the human being is seen as assuming conscious responsibility for human destiny, and yet Christ the Savior liberates the human race from sin, which is the root of all disruption of friendship and of all injustice and oppression.

Gutierrez also popularized the phrase “preferential option for the poor”, which became a slogan of liberation theology and later appeared in addresses of the Pope. Drawing from the biblical motif on the poor, Gutierrez asserts that God is revealed as having a preference for those people who are “insignificant,” “marginalized,” “unimportant,” “needy,” “despised” and “defenseless.” Moreover, he makes clear that terminology of “the poor” in scripture has social and economic connotations that etymologically go back to the Greek word, ptōchos. To be sure, as to not misinterpret Gutierrez’s definition of the term “preferential option,” he stresses, “Preference implies the universality of God’s love, which excludes no one. It is only within the framework of this universality that we can understand the preference, that is, ‘what comes first.'”

As you can see, liberation theology’s defining concept is “social justice,” which is what all Leftist faiths (Unitarians, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Reform and Conservative Jews, etc.) espouse. The United Nations, in 2006, explicitly defined “social justice” as economic redistribution:

The United Nations’ 2006 document “Social Justice in an Open World: The Role of the United Nations”, states that “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth…” The same document reports, “From the comprehensive global perspective shaped by the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, neglect of the pursuit of social justice in all its dimensions translates into de facto acceptance of a future marred by violence, repression and chaos.” The report concludes, “Social justice is not possible without strong and coherent redistributive policies conceived and implemented by public agencies.”

So no, you’re not imagine that Pope Francis is preaching Marxism to the flock. He is a product of his time and place: namely the Catholic Church in Latin America from the 1950s through to the present. The Church there is a Marxist institution and he has absorbed those teachings.

What we are seeing is simply another example of the Left’s march through institutions. The Quakers, once pacifists, now promote the Palestinian’s genocidal ambitions against Israel. The Girl Scouts of America, once a youth organization promoting wholesome values for children, now sponsors pro-abortion speakers and is basically run by a far-Left drag queen who made anti-woman, pseudo-snuff videos.  The Boy Scouts of America now allows gays (showing that, on the Left, its okay if troop leaders or older scouts molest little boys into the future, but it’s not okay if priests in the 1960s once molested little boys).  Notre Dame, once a bastion of Catholic education in America, now invites Barack Obama to give pro-abortion speeches on its campus.  Hollywood, which once was run by patriotic Republicans, now promotes anti-American Leftism throughout the world.  And of course, there’s the pervasive Leftism that now permeates America’s public schools and all of its universities.

When we read the Pope’s words, it’s important to understand that he doesn’t see himself as a Marxist.  He is, instead, preaching core Church doctrine as he sees it.  The problem is that, while no one was really paying attention, core Church doctrine in Latin America fell victim to the Left’s long march through institutions.  When Francis was given the papacy, he simply took that ingrained doctrine with him.  Now that he is Pope, he’s not just spreading Christ’s gospel, he’s spreading the gospel of Liberation Theology, which he was trained to see as inextricably intertwined with Catholicism itself.

There is no doubt in my mind but that Pope Francis is a truly good man, graced with extraordinary compassion.  He loves the Church and does not wish to see it destroyed.  The primary purpose of the Exhortation is to allow the church to grow and thrive in modern times.

Given Pope Francis’s mission and his goal, it’s tragic that he fails to see that the Marxist, redistributive policies he genuinely believes are part of Catholic doctrine also spell the death knell for the Church.  Why do I say that?  I say that because I defy you to name me one society in the world that managed to be both socialist and communist, and still be genuinely (as opposed to nominally) Christian.  To the extent that Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant, revolves around the individual — his conscience, his soul, his redemption, his relation to Christ, his worthiness to live (“I say to you, choose life”) — Christianity is antithetical to socialism, which promotes the collective at the expense of the individual and replaces the individual’s conscience with the demands of the state.

Moderating the sexual revolution

Yesterday, I riffed on James Taranto’s post regarding whether the sexual revolution bell can be un-rung.  I don’t think we can go back to the way things were before — time does, after all, run forward, not backwards — but I do think we are still in a position to moderate its worst excesses.  With that in mind, I looked to the way the staid, even repressive, Victorian era followed upon, and was a reaction to the licentious rapacity of the Georgian period.

Taranto provided more food for thought, because he published an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who spoke not only about ObamaCare but also about the sexual revolution.  I think Dolan’s thoughts are a nice complement to my ideas about re-elevating sexual morality to a public virtue (emphasis mine):

What about the argument that vast numbers of Catholics ignore the church’s teachings about sexuality? Doesn’t the church have a problem conveying its moral principles to its own flock? “Do we ever!” the archbishop replies with a hearty laugh. “I’m not afraid to admit that we have an internal catechetical challenge—a towering one—in convincing our own people of the moral beauty and coherence of what we teach. That’s a biggie.”

For this he faults the church leadership. “We have gotten gun-shy . . . in speaking with any amount of cogency on chastity and sexual morality.” He dates this diffidence to “the mid- and late ’60s, when the whole world seemed to be caving in, and where Catholics in general got the impression that what the Second Vatican Council taught, first and foremost, is that we should be chums with the world, and that the best thing the church can do is become more and more like everybody else.”

The “flash point,” the archbishop says, was “Humanae Vitae,” Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reasserting the church’s teachings on sex, marriage and reproduction, including its opposition to artificial contraception. It “brought such a tsunami of dissent, departure, disapproval of the church, that I think most of us—and I’m using the first-person plural intentionally, including myself—kind of subconsciously said, ‘Whoa. We’d better never talk about that, because it’s just too hot to handle.’ We forfeited the chance to be a coherent moral voice when it comes to one of the more burning issues of the day.”

Without my having raised the subject, he adds that the church’s sex-abuse scandal “intensified our laryngitis over speaking about issues of chastity and sexual morality, because we almost thought, ‘I’ll blush if I do. . . . After what some priests and some bishops, albeit a tiny minority, have done, how will I have any credibility in speaking on that?'”

Yet the archbishop says he sees a hunger, especially among young adults, for a more authoritative church voice on sexuality. “They will be quick to say, ‘By the way, we want you to know that we might not be able to obey it. . . . But we want to hear it. And in justice, you as our pastors need to tell us, and you need to challenge us.'”

That hunger is the beginning of the Victorian revival.

Monday morning information deluge

There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there that I want to share with you.

First, I have to add myself to the zillion or so conservative commentators who are all over the fact that Barack Obama, showing once again that he has no learning curve, made another Open Mic admission.  As you may remember, the first was his personal dislike for Benjamin Netanyahu.  Now, he’s been caught seeking “space” from the Russians in the lead-up to the election so that, once the election happens, he has more flexibility to give them what they want.  Don’t you just love it when your president enters into secret negotiations with a somewhat hostile foreign power, not for the nation’s benefit, but for his own benefit so that, once he wins the election, he can sell his country down the river.  I actually thought of dropping this one on the “real me” Facebook, and then get all depressed when I realized that the liberals who make up most of my day-to-day life wouldn’t care.  They agree with Obama’s end goals and subscribe to his anything to win philosophy.

Speaking of anything to win philosophy, am I the only one who finds incredibly tacky the way in which the Obama campaign is plumbing sleazy marketing depths in order to encourage donations?  I got this in my email today:

Friend —

You deserve some recognition. And we can’t carve your name into the wall of this thing that we’re building — it’s bigger than that.

Here’s what we want to do:

Make a donation of $3 or more before March 31st, and we’ll put your name in the credits of Davis Guggenheim’s documentary, “The Road We’ve Traveled.”

This film is being used at field offices across the country to fire people up — because we know it’s one of the best tools we have. But grassroots supporters like you are the ones making sure our field offices have the resources they need to get the film out there.

That’s why if you help make that happen, you get the credit — literally.

There’s a huge fundraising deadline on March 31st. So make your donation before this Saturday:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Your-Name-in-the-Credits

As for me, I’m not donating a penny until they throw in a set of genuine Ginzu knives.  More seriously, I guess I should be happy that people aren’t donating to Obama unless they get something back immediately. In other words, the long-term prospect of an Obama in the White House is not sufficient in and of itself to open people’s purses.

The apathy of the average Obama voter is nicely 0ffset by the increased rigor and outspokenness of those whom Obama has in his cross hairs.  At Fund 47, you can see a very inspiring photo essay of protesters taking to the streets of San Francisco (long the domain of the hard Left) to protest the administration’s attacks on religious freedom.

And for the more scholarly attack on ObamaCare (which is, even as we speak, the subject of serious argument in the Supreme Court), National Review has an excellent post on the subject.  It explains, not just why ObamaCare is unconstitutional, but why the entire federal government as it exists now, a government made up of independent fiefdoms called agencies, has become a hydra-headed monster the likes of which the Founders would have considered a constitutional abomination.

Not all current abominations affect the Constitution.  Some are simply an offense to history.  Keith Koffler looks at Michelle Obama’s more creative uses for our (not her, but our) historic White House.  I’m sorry, but you can dress that woman up in all the fine clothes you like.  She’s still the functional equivalent of Hollywood’s idea of trailer trash.  (You’ll notice how carefully I distinguish real Americans whose economic situations see them living in trailers, some of whom are indeed life’s dropouts and some of whom are doing the best they can, from Hollywood’s invariably hostile depictions of these same people.)

On another subject altogether, Heather MacDonald has the courage to state the ugly truth that the race hustlers avoid:  Yes, there is a war on black men, but it’s not whites who are waging that war.

There’s also an internecine war in the Catholic Church, with the Obama party attacking the traditionalists.  Obama may win politically but, within the Church itself, I’d put my money on the traditionalists.

And finally, a real war on fat, and not one that involves desecrating the White House.

If you have anything to add, please do.

The Obama administration engages in full-out war against pro-Life people *UPDATED*

As others have commented, the Catholic Church is making the loudest noises about the new Obama Care mandate regarding birth control, abortifacients, and sterilization, but the policy is really a strike against everyone who is pro-Life in America.  If you’re a pro-Life employer, you have to pay for your employees’ abortion pills.  If you’re a pro-Life health insurance company (or health insurance company employee) you must write policies that cover every woman’s birth control, sterilization, and abortifacients.  If you are a health insurance consumer (as we all must be in Obama’s America), you will pay for abortions.

Anybody with a pro-Life conscience, even if that person has arrived at that position without benefit of organized religion, is in the line of fire.

But if you’re thinking that Obama is hostile to religion, you’re right about that too.  Check out the first update to the Anchoress’ post about the health care mandate, and you’ll see that Obama is starting to put the squeeze on in other areas when it comes to people of faith.

I’m hoping that hubris is driving the administration’s unpopular decisions now, in an election year.  To date, though, the administration has shown itself to be sufficiently Machiavellian that I wonder if it knows something about the upcoming elections that the rest of us don’t know.

UPDATE:  Oh, and for the pointedly humorous take on Obama’s policy stand, I know you’ll enjoy this.  I’ve come to the conclusion that we live in a very peculiar world, one that sees me, a loosey-goosey theist (sort of), deeply offended by the federal executive’s full force attacks on religious freedom in America.

(And please sign the petition.)

I’ve got smart friends and they send me interesting things

It’s a family stuff day, so blogging has been light, and will continue to be so.  Fortunately, I’ve got friends who send me interesting things which I am so happy to pass on to you.  In no particular order:

Wolf Howling has written a fascinating, scholarly dissertation examining the adversarial history of faith and socialism, and the way that history quite logically to Obama’s current fight with religious organizations over funding for abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization.

Samuel Jackson and Barack Obama are two minds with but a single thought:  Make voting easy by examining your skin color and, if it’s dark, vote accordingly.  Samuel Jackson, in a profanity-laced interview, freely admits that he couldn’t have cared less about the type of governance Obama would bring to the White House.  The only thing that mattered was his color.  That’s just one person.  Our dear (black) leader — and, yes, his color is an important point in this post — has prepared an entire video imploring black people to vote for him because he’s black:x

As the friend who sent me this asked “I wonder what the backlash would be if Mitt Romney started a Mormons for Mitt campaign?”

Rhymes with Right suggests that the Catholic Church go medieval over ObamaCare [link fixed].  I think he’s right.  Citizens in America are free to make decisions that implicate their religion — and the religion is free to make decisions right back.  What cannot happen in America, however, is precisely what Obama is doing, which is to interject the state into the relationship between the religion and its followers.

Lastly, one of my oldest and dearest blog friends, Patrick O’Hannigan, looks at the Komen versus Planned Parenthood kerfuffle.  I say “legitimate,” because they are both private organizations, as opposed to a government organization versus a religion.  Within the context of the fight itself, of course, I think Planned Parenthood’s position and strategy are both entirely illegitimate and, as Patrick carefully explains, Komen, before it caved, was in the right.

Fisking three dishonest Democrat senators on the subject of ObamaCare’s birth control mandate

The last two times I fisked, I was attacking solo acts.  This time, I get a triumvirate, as the three most liberal women in the United States Senate, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, and Jeanne Shaheen, have joined together to write an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, justifying ObamaCare’s intrusion into the realm of religion.  I cannot resist the fisk.

It was a historic victory for women’s health when the Obama administration changed the law to require private health plans to provide preventive services including breast exams, HIV screening and contraception for free. This new policy will help millions of women get the affordable care they need.

[This is simply ideology blah-blah.  Women get free stuff.  Men don't.  It hardly seems fair to me.]

Now, sadly, there is an aggressive and misleading campaign to deny this benefit to women. It is being waged in the name of religious liberty. But the real forces behind it are the same ones that sought to shut down the federal government last year over funding for women’s health care. They are the same forces that just tried to pressure the Susan G. Komen Foundation into cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screenings. Once again, they are trying to force their politics on women’s personal health-care decisions.

[The above is an impressively misleading paragraph, conflating core constitutional rights with marketplace pressures.  The ObamaCare fight is a war of religious liberty, insofar as the Obama administration, contrary to the limitation that the First Amendment imposes upon the federal government, is trying to force religious organizations to engage in practices that directly contradict core doctrinal matters.  The other fight arose from the fact that a privately funded charity wanted to stop providing money to an organization that (a) is being investigated for corruption; (b) receives massive amounts of federal dollars; (c) is one of the largest abortion providers in the country; and (d) does almost no "breast-cancer screenings" but, instead, simply refers women to other providers.  Having the facts kind of makes a mockery out the triumvirate's claim that those opposed to the ObamaCare mandate "are trying to force their politics on women's personal health-care decisions."]

We are very glad that the president has stood up to these forces while protecting religious freedom on all sides. His administration should be commended, not criticized.

[There's that new-speak again -- the president "protects" religious freedom by imposing doctrinal mandates on religious organizations.]

Contraception was included as a required preventive service on the recommendation of the independent, nonprofit Institute of Medicine and other medical experts because it is essential to the health of women and families. Access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality, can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, and is linked to overall good health outcomes. Nationwide, 1.5 million women use contraceptives only as treatment for serious medical conditions. Most importantly, broadening access to birth control will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions, a goal we all should share.

[Been here, done that.  This is the big lie at the heart of the Obama administration's attack on traditional religious institutions.  These harpies constantly conflate the availability of birth control with funding for birth control.  They are not the same.  Women in America can get birth control.  The government can fund organizations -- indeed, it already does with the monies that go to Planned Parenthood -- that provide all these birth control options.  Forcing religious organizations to pay for birth control, sterilization and abortifacients, however, both exceeds the government's power and contravenes the limitations the Bill of Rights imposes on government.  This is not about whether women should have birth control; it's about with the government can force churches to pay for it.]

Proper family planning through birth control results in healthier mothers and children, which benefits all of us. It saves us money too: The National Business Group on Health—a nonprofit whose members are primarily Fortune 500 companies and large public-sector employers—estimated that it costs 15% to 17% more for employers to exclude birth-control coverage, both because other medical costs rise and because of lost productivity.

[See above.  Apples and oranges.  Even accepting as true every single statement in the above paragraph, that still doesn't give the administration the right or power to force churches to fund birth control, sterilization and abortifacients.]

Contraception is not a controversial issue for the vast majority of Americans. Some 99% of women in the U.S. who are or have been sexually active at some point in their lives have used birth control, including 98% of Catholic women, according to the Guttmacher Institute. A recent survey by Hart Research shows 71% of American voters, including 77% of Catholic women voters, supported this provision broadening access to birth control.

[Ditto.]

Consistent with other federal policies, churches and other groups dedicated to teaching religious doctrine are exempted from providing this coverage under a “conscience clause.” But the law does include institutions that have historic religious ties but also have a broader mission, such as hospitals and universities. That’s also consistent with federal policy—and with laws that already exist in many states.

[Boot strapping argument here.  The second sentence assumes that the law is allowed to include institutions that aren't dedicated solely to religious activity, and staffed solely by core religious employees, and then says that, because the law includes them, therefore the inclusion is consistent with federal policy.  And, as did Sebelius, these gals wrongly look to state law, as if the states' acts give the federal government powers denied it under the Constitution.]

Those now attacking the new health-coverage requirement claim it is an assault on religious liberty, but the opposite is true. Religious freedom means that Catholic women who want to follow their church’s doctrine can do so, avoiding the use of contraception in any form. But the millions of American women who choose to use contraception should not be forced to follow religious doctrine, whether Catholic or non-Catholic.

[Nothing now prevents church employees from buying and using contraception.  They've been able to do so freely, in all 50 states, since the Griswold case in 1965.  What does exist now is a Big Rule saying that the government cannot force religious organizations to engage in acts that violate doctrine.  The First Amendment is explicit:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."  Right now, there are no laws prohibiting Catholic women from doing whatever the heck they please regarding their health care and contraceptive choices.  The only difference now is that never before has the federal government had the temerity to make laws, rules, and regulations that directly implicate an establishment of religion, prohibiting it from freely exercising its faith.]

Catholic hospitals and charities are woven into the fabric of our broader society. They serve the public, receive government funds, and get special tax benefits. We have a long history of asking these institutions to play by the same rules as all our other public institutions.

[Rhetorical sleight of hand.  When it comes to playing by workplace rules, the previous rules didn't attack doctrine.  This here is a different type of rule.]

So let’s remember who this controversy is really about—the women of America. Already too many women struggle to pay for birth control. According to the Hart Research survey cited above, more than one-third of women have reported having difficulty affording birth control. It can cost $600 a year for prescription contraceptives. That’s a lot of money for a mother working as a medical technician in a Catholic hospital, or a teacher in a private religious school.

[And we're right back to the cost-shifting argument.  See my discussion, above.]

Improving access to birth control is good health policy and good economic policy. It will mean healthier women, healthier children and healthier families. It will save money for businesses and consumers. We should hold to the promise we made women and provide this access broadly. Our nation will be better for it.

[Ditto.]

I was going to wrap this up by saying I’ve seldom seen a more ignorant and dishonest piece of advocacy writing. I’ve decided, though, that it’s not ignorant. These gals know what they’re doing and what game they are playing. This is simply dishonest.  It is, however, a fine piece of writing coming from acolytes of the Constitutional law professor who now discovers, seemly for the first time in his intellectual life, that the Founders wisely wanted to limit a nascent dictator’s power:

[T]his week Barack Obama proved himself once again the perfect epigone of Woodrow Wilson—the first president to criticize the Constitution and the principles of the American Founding—with his remarks to NBC’s Matt Lauer that one reason he hasn’t succeeded in fulfilling his campaign promises to transform the world is that “it turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes.”  It turns out?  He’s just discovering this now?  (Well, one thing that “turns out” is that the only constitutional law Obama actually taught at the University of Chicago was the equal protection clause.  Apparently he skipped over that whole “separation of powers” stuff.)

Obama administration to offer religious organizations a “choice” — a Hobson’s choice

Back at the end of the 16th century, Thomas Hobson ran a livery stable (which, in pre-auto times, was the equivalent of a car rental place).  Unlike other livery stables, he refused to allow his customers free pick of horses.  Instead, they were told that they could take the horse in the stall nearest the stable door . . . or they could take no horse at all.  And so a phrase was born:  A Hobson’s Choice is a situation in which the appearance of a choice is illusory, since the only alternative to the offered “choice” is nothing at all.

Centuries later, when Henry Ford started his assembly line, he is reputed to have given his customers the same choice Hobson did:  “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

It’s clear that the Obama administration has been studying the Hobson and Ford playbook.  The headline in the New York Times copy of an Reuters report reads “White House Open to Compromise Over Contraception: Adviser.”  That sounds heartening, doesn’t it?  Except, as always, the devil is in the details:

Signaling possible room for compromise on the issue, David Axelrod said such religious institutions have a grace period to find a way to include health insurance coverage for contraception as part of the U.S. healthcare overhaul without going against Catholic Church doctrine.

“We certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedom so we’re going to look for a way to move forward that both guarantees women that basic preventive care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions,” Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s re-election team, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Think about that for a minute:  Under this so-called compromise, churches will still be required to pay for women’s contraceptives and abortifacients, but the Obama administration is kindly offering them the chance to figure out a way to subsidize these pills and treatments without offending their core doctrinal opposition to contraceptives and abortifacients.  Sounds like a choice to me — a Hobson’s choice.

The Obama administration is not naive.  It knows as well as we do that some things cannot be the subject of compromise.  Just as one cannot be “a little bit pregnant,” there is no way to fund a repugnant practice without being a participant in that practice.  These are binary issues.  And this alleged offer to compromise is no compromise at all.  One may as well ask the condemned man if he wants to be hanged from a gallows or a gibbet — he’s still dead at the end, and the Church is still being forced to bow down to government mandate on doctrinal issues.

Kathleen Sebelius’ defense of the new ObamaCare mandate is pathetic

Pathetic is a very strong derogatory word, but I think it’s apt when looking at Kathleen Sebelius’ defense for the Obama administration’s recent mandate that all employers must purchase insurance that provides their employees with birth control, sterilization and morning-after pills.  A fisking is in order (all hyperlinks in original omitted):

One of the key benefits of the 2010 health care law is that many preventive services are now free for most Americans with insurance. Vaccinations for children, cancer screenings for adults and wellness visits for seniors are all now covered in most plans with no expensive co-pays or deductibles. So is the full range of preventive health services recommended for women by the highly respected Institute of Medicine, including contraception.

[Don't you love that concept of "free"?  In fact, nothing's free.  It's simply that the plan shifts the cost from employee to employer -- so that the employer has less money for salaries, other benefits, new job creation, facility maintenance, etc.  But it's all good in Obama-land.  I also like the way that the only one of the "full range of preventive health services recommended for women" that Sebelius names is the fairly non-controversial "contraception."  To those who haven't been paying attention to the details, the message is clear:  all those conservatives are getting their knickers into a twist for nothing.]

Today, virtually all American women use contraception at some point in their lives. And we have a large body of medical evidence showing it has significant benefits for their health, as well as the health of their children. But birth control can also be quite expensive, costing an average of $600 a year, which puts it out of reach for many women whose health plans don’t cover it.

[Again, in a marvel of sleight of hand, Sebelius is pretending that this whole uproar is about nothing more than contraception.  As a matter of law, deceit includes misrepresentation through omission.  This is deceitful.  Also, note that careful language, to the effect that "birth control can also be quite expensive."  Aside from the fact that those are wiggle words, she's doing the same thing that Babs Boxer did, which is to try to cast this as an economic issue, when it is, in fact, a much deeper one:  the morality and Constitutionality of forcing religious institutions to subsidize a doctrinally offensive practice.]

The public health case for making sure insurance covers contraception is clear. But we also recognize that many religious organizations have deeply held beliefs opposing the use of birth control.

[Is that all she's got?  The fact that for some people birth control can cost $600 per year is her entire "public health case for making sure insurance covers contraception" is her justification for a vast cost-shifting program that requires practically every employer in America to subsidize insurance that covers women in the workforce between age 16 and menopause?  Remember, this "clear" case will cost employers a bundle, a cost that will inevitably be shared out to old people, infertile people, gay people, celibate people, etc.  How nice of Sebelius, secure in her own lack of logic, to recognize that her little economic scenario might offend core religious beliefs.  Fear not, though.  She's got an answer for those offended people.]

That’s why in the rule we put forward, we specifically carved out from the policy religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith. This exemption includes churches and other houses of worship, and could also include other church-affiliated organizations.

[We covered this often, so I won't go on at length.  The exemption is so narrow that it pretty much covers only the smallest of churches, the one staffed by two nuns and a priest, all three of whom do the janitorial and grounds maintenance work too.]

In choosing this exemption, we looked first at state laws already in place across the country. Of the 28 states that currently require contraception to be covered by insurance, eight have no religious exemption at all.

[This one really steamed me.  Someone in the Obama administration forgot to read the Constitution.  You see, states have broader rights vis a vis individuals than does the Federal government.  This makes sense because (a) the feds have more coercive power than the states and (b) it's easier to relocate from a state you don't like, than to be forced to emigrate from a country that's oppressing you.  If Alabama is too rough, go to California.  If the Obama government is coming after you, though, it's a lot harder to find a safe haven.]

The religious exemption in the administration’s rule is the same as the exemption in Oregon, New York and California.

[See comments above.]

It’s important to note that our rule has no effect on the longstanding conscience clause protections for providers, which allow a Catholic doctor, for example, to refuse to write a prescription for contraception. Nor does it affect an individual woman’s freedom to decide not to use birth control. And the president and this administration continue to support existing conscience protections.

[Again, sleight of hand.  What doctors can or cannot do is not the issue.  The issue is that faith-based organizations are being forced by the federal government to subsidize a product that offends core doctrinal beliefs.  If that isn't a violation of the First Amendment, I don't know what is.]

This is not an easy issue. But by carving out an exemption for religious organizations based on policies already in place, we are working to strike the right balance between respecting religious beliefs and increasing women’s access to critical preventive health services.

[To which I have a last word:  Feh!]

To its credit, USA Today, which hosted Sebelius’ advocacy piece, openly disagrees with her — and provides a link to its opposition right in the body of her dishonest little essay.

Hugh Hewitt hits an important nail on the head regarding the new ObamaCare mandate

I hadn’t looked closely at what Sebelius said when promulgating the new ObamaCare rules that require religious organizations to fund birth control, sterilization, and morning-after pills.  Hugh Hewitt, however, did look — and caught something interesting:

The press release that accompanied the new rule didn’t mention “Catholics” or “Catholic institutions,” but was as obviously aimed at Catholics and their institutions as the Blaine Amendment of long ago.

“This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty,” said Obama’s HHS secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, a pro-choice absolutist. “I believe this proposal strike the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”

To begin with: You cannot “balance” the right to free exercise of religion any more than you can “balance” the right of a newspaper to print stories that may injure national security.

You cannot “balance” the right to vote with the desire to save money in a time of extreme fiscal crisis.

You simply cannot indulge in social engineering when the Constitution of the United States declares the rights that you wish to engineer off-limits to the political forces of the day.

Both William Shirer and Hitler think the Obama administration is making a mistake with its attack on the Catholic Church

No, William Shirer and Hitler have not really addressed current political issues, because (of course) both are dead.  And no, I’m most certainly not comparing Obama or anyone in his administration to Hitler.  But yes, they both did in the past offer advice about direct government attacks on the Catholic Church, and Obama would be wise to heed that advice.

Now that it’s available in sleek Kindle form, so that I no longer have to lug around a 1,200 page book, I’m finally reading William Shirer’s masterful The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  As I just started reading it yesterday, I’ve only gotten as far as Hitler’s 1909-1913 sojourn in Vienna, the time during which he formulated his philosophies, both racial and political.  Vienna, the capital of a rapidly disintegrating polyglot nation that saw the Germanic minority holding political power over the Slavs, allowed Hitler to witness the rise and fall of several political movements, and to draw his own conclusions about what contributed to their success or failure.

Hitler was a man of unparalleled evil.  He was also an exceptionally astute observer of human nature and politics, who put his insights into the service of his evil agenda.  That the agenda was wrong does not mean that the insights lack validity.  One of the insights that Shirer points out would not have struck me so strongly had it not been for the events of the past week.  Georg Ritter von Schoenerer’s Pan-German Nationalist Party was one of the political movements that did not succeed during Hitler’s Vienna years, but that certainly gave him food for thought.  I’ll now cede the floor to quotations from Shirer and Hitler (at location 640 of 35703, emphasis mine):

The Pan-Germans at that time were engaged in a last-ditch struggle for German supremacy in the multinational empire.  And though Hitler thought that Schoenerer was a “profound thinker” and enthusiastically embraced his basic program of violent nationalism, anti-Semitism, anti-socialism, union with Germany and opposition to the Hapsburgs and the Holy See, he quickly sized up the causes for the party’s failure:

This movement’s inadequate appreciation of the importance of the social problem cost it the truly militant mass of the people; its entry into Parliament took away its might impetus and burdened it with all the weaknesses peculiar to this institution; the struggle against the Catholic Church . . . robbed it of countless of the best elements that the nation can call its own.

Though Hitler was to forget it when he came to power in Germany, one of the lessons of his Vienna years which he stresses at great length in Mein Kampf is the futility of a political party’s trying to oppose the churches.  “Regardless of how much room for criticism there was in any religious denomination,” he says, in explaining why Schoenerer’s Los-vonRom (Away from Rome) movement was a tactical error, “a political party must never for a moment lose sight of the fact that in all previous historical experience a purely political party has never succeeded in producing a religious reformation.”

The Catholic Church has changed because it wanted to.  In the last 50 or 60 years, it has changed, at least at the grass-roots level, because Leftists have infiltrated it.  But the Catholic Church does not change when a political movement attacks it from the front, which is what the Leftists in America have suddenly decided to do.

Incidentally, I’m not the only one seeing that, without in any way calling today’s Leftist’s Nazis, all of us can learn by examining the mistakes of the past.

Open warfare between the Left and America might be a good and clarifying thing

We are now at the point of open warfare between the Left and the traditional Judeo-Christian faiths in America.  We all know that there’s long been a covert war, but it’s finally out in the open now.  As I’ve pointed out on my blog, this week alone, the open war has played out in the Susan G. Komen versus Planned Parenthood fight, the ObamaCare versus Catholic Church fight, and the gay activists versus any religion fight.  Now, we can add one (or maybe two) more to the list:  the Leftists and Muslims versus Christians at West Point attack, with, as a companion piece, the silencing of military chaplains.

West Point Chapel

A flurry of very high profile attacks might actually be a good thing.  Covert attacks are very difficult to defend against.  There are a lot of Cassandras in covert wars, people who realize what’s happen, but whose are disregarded on the ground that their confused or paranoid.  It’s only when war is well and truly declared that people get energized and are willing to man the barricades.

Cassandra prophesying

America is a religious nation.  Ordinary Joe and Josephine might be willing to sit in their recliners in the face of one or two of these attacks, showing the same inertia seen in Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came. . . .” poem. These sustained attacks against all aspects of religion in public life, however, might make Joe and Josephine worry that they’re the next ones the government and its cohorts will come for.

Gay activists’ alleged attack on prayer, even if not true, highlights the Left’s profound animus to traditional Judeo-Christian religion

Cassie Jay is a young woman who makes unabashedly Leftist films.  Back, in 2010, she made a documentary called “Daddy I Do” that attacked abstinence-only education.  Even in liberal Marin, this movie caused a bit of a kerfuffle, as the local art cinema first agreed to show it, then backed off from that agreement, and then, when the liberal fit hit the media shan, finally agreed to show the movie.  The debate garnered headlines, and undoubtedly drew more people to the movie than would otherwise have attended.  My bet is that, at the end, a lot of people paid for tickets, not because they actually wanted to see her movie, but because they wanted to show solidarity.

Ms. Jay now contends that she’s stumbled into cultural clash, and she didn’t see this one coming at all.  On its face, Jay’s newest movie ought not to have ruffled any feathers on the Left.  It’s a straight down-the-line Progressive encomium for the virtues of gay marriage.  The Marin Independent Journal assures readers that her latest, “The Right to Love: An American Family,” is “a compelling case for legalizing gay marriage.”  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  I haven’t seen it yet — indeed, few have — so I’m not qualified to comment.

(Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto)

Jay claims, however, that there are those in the gay community who have seen it and they are very unhappy with the movie.  You see, in addition to promoting gay marriage, which is a good thing, the gay activists watching the preview discerned a Christian subtext, which is a very bad thing indeed:

“The Right to Love,” which premieres Monday at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, focuses on the Leffew family of Santa Rosa, a legally married gay couple and their two adopted children. When the trailer was released this past fall, it included a scene of the family saying a Christian prayer at their breakfast table.

The reaction it unleashed from a segment of the gay community was angry and venomous, and caught Jaye off guard.

“It just erupted online,” she recalled. “It totally caught me by surprise. I was shocked by the backlash. All these LGBT (lesbian-gay-bixexual-transgender) people were attacking the Leffew family for being religious, saying, ‘How can you be a part of an institution that doesn’t see us as equals and thinks we’re an abomination? How can you be a member of that club?’ I never intended to include that prayer as a controversial issue, but there was a lot of hatred toward them being Christian.”

Here’s the incendiary trailer (the prayer shows up 38 seconds in):

As for me, I think this is a publicity stunt.  I scrolled through the 280 comments at the trailer and found a few comments to the effect that “religions should let us marry and they’re bad ’cause they don’t” stuff, but I don’t see any evidence of the firestorm Jay claims erupted over her film — more specifically, that she claims erupted because of that two second prayer scene in the trailer.  Unless Jay deleted all the hardcore anti-Christian comments as spam, they’re just not there.  I also did a couple of Google searches for the name of the film along with the words “Christian” and “religion” but, aside from several dozen sites singing rapturous praises about a pro-gay marriage movie, found only a few newspaper articles quoting Jay about the claimed firestorm.

I’m willing to acknowledge that my research skills may be abysmal, and that I’ve managed to miss the dozens of comments and posts in which activist gays threaten to burn crosses on the lawns of those gay families who are stupid enough to cling to Christianity.  I may also have a different idea of Jay as to what constitutes a truly controversial issue.  She may think one crackpot makes a controversy.  I don’t.

What’s rather amazing, though, is that Jay is promoting her film by pointing to a subject that has nothing to do with the film itself.  The film is about gay marriage.  There is a built-in audience for this movie.  Gays will see it.  Elites who want to prove their moral superiority on the issue will see it.  But Jay is promoting it, not by pointing to its substantive issues, but by talking up the fact that (according to her) many in the GLBT (or LGBT or whatever other order the letters should appear) community are no longer asking for religion to change.  Instead, they’re attacking religion at the root.  For her, this is a selling point.

Jay’s right, too, in her assessment that, in Obama-world, attacking religion is a selling point for any movie that one markets to the Left.  The Obama administration’s direct, frontal attack on the Catholic church (and other religious institutions) demonstrates as nothing else could that the Left, now that it holds two out of the three seats of power in American government, intends not to amend religion, or carve out secular exceptions, but to destroy it entirely.  Under the new ObamaCare mandate, the churches are left with only three choices all of which range from damaging to destructive:  they can deny their principles and provide insurance, which destroys them morally; they can refuse to provide the insurance, which will trigger penalties or lose them so many employees they’ll be destroyed financially; or they can simply shut down their outreach, which destroys their place in their community and the missions that are an intrinsic part of their doctrine.

Destruction of Damascus Christian Quarter, 1860

My guess is that Jay is astutely tuning into a strong cultural subtext roiling the Left in order to market her film.  Even if there is no fight between gay activists and religion, there ought to be, and she’s going to use that paradigm to broaden her audience beyond the Prop. 8 crowd.  She can expect to see attendance increase as those on the Left attend the film, either to show their solidarity with religion (Christ’s gospel is good, even if the church has perverted it) or to protest the fact that anyone in the LGBT (or GLBT) community would dare to ally itself with a hate-filled, archaic institution that should be destroyed, rather than reformed.

I think the saying is that, in show business, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

What do you think?